My name is Jorge N. Leal, I am a writer, educator, and scholar interested in the way too many things. But for the sake of being less vague, I will state that I am interested in such topics as: urban history, urban planning, the environment and their effects on culture in the city. Nevertheless my perennial interest is the historical and contemporary presence and contributions of migrant and ethnic communities in global cities.
I was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. I arrived in Los Angeles in the early 1990s where I completed my high school education and gained admission to the journalism program at California State University, Northridge. Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s I became quite active in the “Rock En Español” music scenes of both Baja and Alta California to the point that I was considered a sort of a “Rock en Español Activist.”
During that time I relentlessly published interviews of local bands and album reviews in several underground fanzines. My persistent and incisive writing earned me the nickname “Implacable” in the L.A. scene. In 2000, I earned my degree in journalism and I went on to work as a journalist in several Spanish-Language publications in the L.A. area. Conversely, I decided to further my involvement in the music scene and I took “direct action” by producing concerts that featured the most popular local Latin Alternative L.A. bands along with emerging acts from Mexico and Latin America.
In 2006, I decided to “retire” as a concert promoter to continue my academic quest and started to work on a second B.A. in history. I have strived to contribute to the cultural life of Los Angeles as a gallery educator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Additionally, I have worked as a copywriter for Mun2, the bicultural youth TV network and served as an associate producer for the PBS show “A Place of Our Own/Los Niños en Su Casa.” In addition, I was a Stage Manager and concert producer for Telemundo’s Summer Concert Series at Citywalk during eight years (2008-2014).
I also served as the U.S., correspondent for Spain’s Zona de Obras. For Zona de Obras I researched and wrote several chapters focusing on the Latino Punk subcultures in the U.S. Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico for the entitled, Diccionario de Punk y Hardcore. España y Latinoamérica. (Zona de Obras/Fundación Autor, 2011). This book was published in Spain and Latin America in the fall of 2012. In addition, a chapter on my research on the Mexican themed mall, Plaza México (Lynwood, California) is part of the anthology titled, “Post-Ghetto: reimagining South Los Angeles” edited by Dr. Josh Sides (Director of the Center for Southern California Studies, at CSUN) and published in by UC Press in 2012/
Academically, I am urban and cultural historian whose research focuses on the historical trajectory of transnational Latina/o urban communities in Southern California in the last third of the twentieth-century. In particular, I explore the generative articulations of participatory and cultural citizenship and the reshaping of the urban space in South East Los Angeles. I am currently a Ph.D candidate in the History Department at UC San Diego. AS I complete my dissertation, I lecture for the CSUN History department, in addition to teaching courses for the Chicana/o Latina/o Studies Department at Cal State L.A.